On college campuses, faculty and students are facing new microaggression rules of ill-defined terms or images that, while not expressly racist, still constitute offensive speech. This week the President of Lipscomb University, Randy Lowry, apologized for hosting African American students at his house with a display containing cotton. Likewise, in Killeen, Texas. Hobby Lobby has been criticized on Facebook by Daniell Rider for selling cotton decor products because it raised painful memories of slavery. The Cotton Industry (which advertises “Cotton: The Fabric Of Our Lives”) has not been heard from on the latest claim of cotton as a fiber microaggression.
In her posting, Rider wrote “This decor is WRONG on SO many levels, There is nothing decorative about raw cotton… A commodity which was gained at the expense of African-American slaves. A little sensitivity goes a long way. PLEASE REMOVE THIS “decor.” It is actually fake cotton sticks that sell for $6.99 to $15.99 online and up to $29.99 in stores as a way to “Offer your space a touch of natural beauty with Cotton Bouquet.” The store promises that such displays offer “a stunning, long-lasting centerpiece without the pesky water!”
Perhaps but they can come with a microaggression complaint. President Randy Lowry discovered that danger after he held the event at his home. Lowry was sent an apology letter to black students after the controversy was triggered by a posting from one of his guests about the centerpiece and cuisine. Instagram user nakaylayvonne wrote “As we arrived to the president’s home and proceeded to go in we seen cotton as the center pieces,” she wrote. “We were very offended, and also the meals that were provided resembled many ‘black meals’ they had mac n cheese, collard greens, corn bread etc. The night before Latinos also had dinner at his house and they had tacos. They also DIDN’T have the center piece that we HAD tonight.”